Time Control On Steroids - The Downloadable Audio Book Phenomenon

In a quiet corner of the Internet a revolution is rapidly gaining pace - a revolution that offers the chance of injecting a greater level of quality and intellectual stimulation to the mountain of offerings currently available.

Where is the revolution taking place? Well, it's building steam in the realm of audio books - downloadable audio books to be precise - and it promises to fill the need for high quality content that is both portable and easy to access.

Take Control of Your Time - And Be Inspired In The Process

What's more, it portends great things, not just for ordinary book lovers, but for multi-taskers seeking a better way to fill those 'dead' hours - that time that is unavoidably taken up with tasks that leave you desperate for something other than the force-fed fare of homogenized muzak or agonizingly inane chatter on much of commercial radio that so often surrounds us.

Now, if you are excited by the thought of being able to positively employ the 'lost' time that inevitably accompanies work-outs at the gym, a jog in the park or those interminable hours forfeited during bus, train or plane transport, then a downloadable audio book is exactly what you need.

Acceptance Shows The Thirst For Quality

So, is this really a new nirvana? Haven't we heard it all before? Well, not quite like this, and not quite so dramatically either. You see, since 2004, one of the most striking growth areas in Internet take-up has been in the realm of 'spoken word' products, otherwise known as audio books.

Indeed, so positive is the advance that some industry sources are predicting that audio books will outpace printed books within the very near future to become the Web's top selling product.

Figures released by the Audio Publisher's Association certainly reinforce the notion that web savvy buyers have taken to downloadable books with gusto. According to their data, this new industry was worth $800 million in 2004, yet one year later had grown by over 150% to become a $2 billion performer.

So, what is it that is enticing so many people to this new medium?

Clearly, one attraction is the ability to carry around so much literary gold in one's pocket. With the advent of ever cheaper, more capacious MP3 players such as the iPod by Apple Inc., and the even cheaper Creative Zen line amongst many others, you can download vast libraries of pre-recorded books and carry them in your shirt pocket or pop them in your purse and hardly realise that they are there..

Wealth of Content

And the choice of downloadable audio book content these days is as comprehensive as you could wish for. Are you seeking entertainment, business advice, self help or health? Well, it's all there. And more. From Stephen King thrillers to the poetic Dylan Thomas and the diarist Samuel Pepys, to business gurus such as Michael Gerber and Jack Welch, there is a wealth of material to satisfy virtually any taste.

Downloading procedures are also straightforward these days, and with the spread of broadband, download times should be quite quick, too.

It is difficult to give a clear estimate of file sizes, however, as there are a number of factors involved. These, of course, include the length of the original text, whether it is abridged or not, and the audio quality settings of the download.

For example, many audio book providers only offer qualities up to a bitrate of 32 kbps whereas some, such as the popular http://www.AudioBookScape.com, offer 3 file types up the highest quality of 128 kbps.

With 3 different bitrates to chose from you can select whether to go for compactness or the best audio quality but with a larger file size.

A one hour audio book, therefore could run from approximately 14 MB at the standard quality to around 54 MB at the highest quality level, though many people will find the enhanced mid-quality level to be the best balance of size and sound and thus only require about 27 MB of space (Note these are only general approximations).

But with iPods and other MP3 players happily storing upwards of 2-4 GB of data, you can pack away around 50-100 hours or more of listening inspiration in your pocket and double your pleasure as you listen to your latest audio book and watch the sun go down or feel much less irritation as you watch the waiting list at the doctor's office just perceptibly shrink.

You might even offer to let the next patient go ahead, as you become riveted to the story unfolding to you alone. So, consider joining the revolution today and taking back how you control time. May the book (audio, of course) be with you. Happy listening.

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